The following is the second part of our story on breast milk donation, looking into the roles of both the medical professionals and the grieving mothers, and what’s being done to level the stark difference between supply and demand.For Part One of This Article, Click Here.
Is Your Hospital Helping or Hurting?
It may come as a shock after reading about the extreme importance of milk donation, but there are many hospitals that are not coordinating their efforts with banks around the country. There are still providers that are completely unaware of how donor milk works and what level of safety is guaranteed in the process.
Naomi Bar-Yam, PhD and Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England, notes that some hospitals have full policies and guidelines about how and why they use donor milk; some hospitals will make arrangements for the parents if it needs to be brought in by a third party; but some are strictly against it. The reason seems to be nothing more than narrow-mindedness and a belief in “the way things are done.”
Luckily, due to a group that is growing through the use of the Internet and the availability of health resources, these zero tolerance hospitals are becoming fewer by the day. In fact, if you’re interested in the process and want to keep it as an option, a simple Google search or a few minutes spent on www.hmbana.org
can work wonders.The Reasons Can Be Endless
While the administrators at the milk banks across the country recognize that the reasons for donating can vary drastically, it often comes down to the desire to help. These supportive mothers have more milk than their own child needs, and they see how much it can be of value. So rather than the old method of “pump and dump,” some women act to help out those infants in the NICU and those who, for whatever reason, can’t enjoy their own mother’s milk.
There’s also a group that is personalizing the issue and using it as a way to grieve, as featured in the documentary Donor Milk
. Mothers who have lost their own children but are still producing milk have used their status as a donor to work through the tragedy. And milk banks help to make that transition as easy as possible.
“Ultimately they are connecting this network of grieving families with needy families and helping very, very sick kids get a chance to live,” writes Jarred King, Producer/Director at Swagger Films and Co-Producer of Donor Milk
“My experience with human milk donation came through the tragedy of the loss of our third child in the 8th month of pregnancy,” added Kevin West, Co-Producer of Donor Milk
, whose wife’s body began producing milk after the loss. “She became a donor at the Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin and later a private donor for other medically-challenged children.”
In just a year of donating, West’s wife produced 8,000 ounces, which inspired a short film in 2009 called Mother’s Milk
. The documentary work with King began shortly after that, creating a way to tell their very important story to the masses.
So from the mothers who were touched with their own sadness, to a group that is sharing their gift with the world
, human milk donation looks like a group that is here to stay and is ready to enter the mainstream. Which is good news for our future generations that need a little help.
And good news for the mothers, women, and medical professionals that are finding incredible ways to nurture those who need it the most. Cited Sources
. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2012. <https://www.hmbana.org/missiondescription>.
"About Us." Mothers' Milk Bank of New England
. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2012. <http://www.milkbankne.org/aboutus.shtml>.